Good News Jail and Prison Ministry celebrates 23 years at Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 9:53 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - A local jail and prison ministry held its annual fundraising banquet Thursday night and honored a very prominent leader at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department.

“In order to have a ministry, we need to have a sheriff to invite us to come. Without that invitation, it doesn’t happen,” said Good News Jail and Prison Ministry President Jon Evans.

23 years ago, Good News Jail and Prison Ministry started a program at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department with the help of Sheriff Billy Sollie. Good News was founded in 1961 with a mission to place Christian chaplains in jails and prisons around the world.

“We’ve had a chaplain here and the chaplain is responsible for all the religious programs in the facility. So regardless of an individual’s religious preference, the chaplain will assist them and then the chaplain is personally involved in a Christian program because he’s a Christian chaplain. So he’ll lead Bible studies, and normally outside of COVID, he has a host of volunteers that come in that minister to the spiritual needs of inmates and the staff. So he’s available as a pastor to everybody who’s behind bars, whatever their need is, he’s there to care for them.”

Currently, Good News has 75 chaplains in the U.S. and over 200 chaplains and staff serving in 22 countries around the world. And here in Lauderdale County, Sheriff Billy Sollie said seeing the impact the ministry has had on inmates at his facility along with support from the community truly makes him happy.

“I wish I could remember the year it was that I was at the sheriff’s conference and heard another county had this program and I came back and told our staff, we’ve got to have this. I really wish we knew just how many lives have been saved because of this ministry, So we’re excited to be the longest-tenured Good News Jail and Prison Ministry in the state of Mississippi,” said Sheriff Sollie.

And one of the former inmates who participated in the program, Meridian’s very own Ronnie Shack, owner of the Rib Shack. Shack said God changed his life and now he’s able to give back to the community what he stole.

“They would minister to us almost every day and I said I’ve got to have some of that. That’s when it began. That’s when my journey began and I’ve just been serving the Lord faithfully all these years and He has blessed me tremendously,” said Shack.

Good News Jail and Prison Ministry relies on donations to help fund its ministry programs and that’s why they hold this annual banquet fundraiser. But this year’s was a special one as the organization honored Sheriff Sollie’s service in the community and the ministry.

Sheriff Sollie is retiring at the end of the year and this was his last banquet to attend as Sheriff of Lauderdale County.

If you would like to donate to Good News you may visit it’s website at